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How to Make Every Minute of Your Day Matter

October 8, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229275

To effectively make changes in your life, you must know where you are now. What is working? What can be improved? To accomplish what's important to us in the 1440 minutes, we each have every day, we must determine where to direct our attention.

Clarity and productivity come from tracking what you currently do each day. I recommend monitoring 30 minute segments for two consecutive work days noting (generally) how you spent each time-block. For example, from 7:00 to 7:30 a.m. your entry might read: Commuted to work, read on eReader, checked mobile email.

Many of us think we know how we spend each day. But by actively tracking what you currently do each day, you can really define how your time is spent. This will let you look at your existing results and have a baseline from where to start making improvements.

Once you're clear about where you are, you can begin your focused journey to where you want to be. Identify tasks or activities you can do differently. Make adjustments. Compare the new results against your baseline. With the changes you've made, are you closer to your desired results? If yes, continue. If not, readjust. Then track and observe.

I once worked with an executive whose time was best spent making calls.

When he asked me for suggestions about how to better focus his time I asked: "How many calls did you make yesterday?"

"About 10," he assured me.

"Bull," I blurted out before I could stop myself.

But he smiled and affirmed that while he'd like to make 10 calls a day, his time is eaten up with minutia resulting in more like four or five calls a day.

So I challenged him. I gave him a stack of 10 quarters and suggested he place them on one side of his desk. Each time he made a call, he was to move one quarter to the other side of his desk, a tangible reminder of his intention completed. When we spoke a week later, he assured me he was making more outbound calls, all because we'd identified where he was, determined where he wanted to be, and made getting from one to the other a game. 

Staying focused is critical, but it can be difficult when you're juggling so many balls at once. Continually changing focus diminishes productivity and constantly having to refocus on what you were just doing after an interruption compromises your workflow, prevents you from completing your most important tasks, and essentially forces you to spend more time than necessary getting things done.

To develop a "focus-to-finish" mindset, consider identifying what you are NOT going to do during the next 24 to 96 hours. We all have more to get done each day than is humanly possible. Determining what on your agenda can be safely pushed out for a day or three allows you to focus on what remains.

A simple kitchen timer set for 15 minutes can help you develop a "focus-to-finish" mindset. I personally love the timer website: www.e.ggtimer.com. For those 15 minutes, stay focused on the one task at hand. If, at the end of the time you have more to do, set up another 15 minute session and keep your focus on the one task for that time. This easy method helps you reduce interruptions and work single-mindedly in a very doable manner.

So how do you spend less money, get more done, and be happy? Seek clarity and focus until the task at hand is completed. With these two easy steps you'll make whatever it is you currently call your best even better.